“A Chaos of Clocks”

Don’t talk to me on Monday, guys. Seriously. It’s not gonna be a good time.

Why? Because on Sunday for those of us in the United States, daylight saving time (yes, it’s saving, not savings) begins, the time of year where I am cruelly deprived of an entire hour of sleep. Daylight saving time is a regular part of life for most people in the United States and 74 other countries (the countries of the E.U. call it, adorably, “European Summer Time”), but, throughout its history, it has been anything but standard.

Germany was the first nation to adopt the practice in 1916, but daylight saving time was first instituted in the United States in 1918 with the Standard Time Act. However, this act was repealed in 1919. But this doesn’t mean that everybody in the country ceased springing forward and falling back. For example, New York and Chicago kept it up. A national daylight saving law was again instituted during World War II, but the madness started again when it was repealed after the war was over. States and localities started and ended daylight saving time whenever they wanted, and in 1963 Time magazine called it “a chaos of clocks.” For example, in 1965 Minneapolis began its daylight saving time two weeks after St. Paul. In 1966, the Uniform Time Act was passed, establishing order where once chaos ruled. Under that act, daylight saving time began on the last Sunday in April and ended on the last Sunday in October.

But wait! you may say. Daylight saving time begins on March 11 this year, which is not April. To which I say, how very astute of you. When daylight saving time begins and ends has shifted over the years. It began in January in the 1970s during the energy crisis. (There was an energy crisis in the 1970s, young’uns.) The most recent change occurred in 2007 when daylight savings was extended by four weeks.

But this doesn’t mean that everyone in the U.S. springs forward every March and falls back every November. Hawaii and Arizona are the two states in the union that don’t change their clocks, and a smattering of other states don’t observe it consistently throughout.

Contrary to popular opinion, daylight saving time was not started to help farmers. In fact, daylight saving time really screwed farmers up in the beginning. They actually had less time to harvest hay and milk cows because farm hands would go home at the usual time. In fact, DST was established to save energy (hence instituting it during wartime and repealing it peacetime). But a 2008 study by the University of California at Santa Barbara found that, after Indiana got on the DST bandwagon, energy consumption when up, but only slightly. But in a 2008 report to Congress, the Department of Energy asserts that DST does save energy, but only by 0.03 percent.

So it looks like, either way, it doesn’t make much difference.

It seems like the benefits of daylight saving time are minimal, and it makes me cranky and sleepy. If you’re reading this on Monday, below is a video that explains the complex ins and outs of DST so you don’t have to waste precious brain energy that you could be using to write papers or pin things to Pinterest.

Featured image credit: YouTube

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Mindy is an attorney and Managing Editor of Teen Skepchick. She hates the law and loves stars. You can follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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